Chocolate Cake with Tea – ReWorked

When I was trying to decide which image I should do for today’s rework so many came to mind.  I went through lots of photos and this next one really stood out, see if you can see why.

This was one of my first-ish attempts at HDR images.  I was using Photoshop to do them.  The original post was also called Chocolate Cake with Tea and I did it back in December.  I remember doing it, I had to make the cake, then ice it and then set up the still life.  I hadn’t really used the cups and saucers before, so it was nice to get them out for this.  They seemed to go so well with this set up.

I used 5 images for this and I think it is fair to say that I over, over saturated the colours somewhat, even the cake looks too orange.  The lighting looks too strong as well, I really don’t know what I was thinking when I did this.  Though to be fair, I think it was inexperience and not really knowing what I was doing and not being sure.

This image is pretty much a straight HDR image, once it was processed I really didn’t do much else to it.  Back then processing as a HDR was pretty much it.  I didn’t try and find anything else to do to the images.  So in order to rework the image, it meant I had to go back and find the images I used for it.  I used Photomatix Pro this time.

This HDR image is so much closer to the original colours of the tea set.  The cups and saucers are not that bright orange that is in the first image.  This image has also been processed with camera raw in Photoshop.  Other than that, nothing else really.

Of course I had to have a go at trying some other stuff on it as well.

I don’t know if this really worked, but I wanted to try and see what I could do to it. I didn’t do a lot, just added a couple of layers of blurring, darkened it some and then tried to highlight the cake more.  I think it has turned out too dark, and maybe sometimes images should just be left alone.

I need to go and get some things ready for my class tomorrow.  I can’t believe it is here already.  I am really looking forward to teaching, but I am also a little worried about how I will go.  What if I get asked a question I can’t answer?  What if I stuff everything up.  I need to prepare now, so enjoy the post and see you tomorrow.


  1. Once again the rework is streets ahead of the original and shows how far you have developed. Congratulations! If you get asked a question you can’t answer you may turn to the group and ask “well, does anybody know?” and if not….. just say you’ll find out and let them know. Nobody has a monopoly on knowledge and there will always be something that comes out of left field. Don’t let it fluster you….. I asked someone who was teaching me how applying a gaussian blur as part of an action made things sharper – he was quite open in saying that he didn’t know how it worked, just that it does. Photoshop isn’t easy and sometimes that is just the right answer. A child asks “why?”, the parent answers “just because” :-)

    • Thank you Andrew, appreciate that, and thank you for the advice about the teaching, I will try and remember it all tomorrow. :)

  2. I’m just fascinated by the work you do. You say your last image is a bit too dark. I, think your light and dark is great. Just love what you’ve done to this image.

  3. Good to look at and good enough to eat – it’s actually making me hungry. Wish I could follow your tutorials, but I’m just using a basic digital camera, Picasa, and a Neo-Office drawing program. The HDR is HDR-like, and I’m a bit distrustful because it’s too tempting to go OTT. I did download the free version of Photomatrix. Do you recommend it?

    • It was making me feel very hungry when I was working on it, especially doing the blurring on the cake. Of course you can use my tutorials, I am doing one on Monday about using something basic like GIMP and I will give you directions on how to download it, it is free software. I love Photomatix, I use it constantly. Of course everyone you ask will give a different answer, but I am a fan. Don’t forget if you decide to purchase it to get the coupon code for a 15% discount. I have put the code on the software page at the top of the blog.

  4. Helen says

    I like the last image. I think the colours are better, giving more for the eye to investigate.

    • I am a bit confused, they are all HDR’s, even the original. I think the original HDR was too over done.

  5. Not only are you an ace photographer, you can also bake amazing cakes! I love todays photo Leanne, thank you. Lottie

    • That cake wasn’t really that great, it was a very basic chocolate cake, you know the type, chuck everything in a bowl and then put it in the oven. Haha. Great to see you love the photos today. Thanks a lot Lottie

  6. Actually, I like all of them, but the one you say is closest looks best. Chocolate cake equals yum!!

    • It was a really hard picture to do because the cake was eaten months ago and as I worked on it, I just wanted cake. Thanks John

  7. Taught for awhile.
    Great responses to questions you can’t answer :
    “That’s a great question. Let me get back to you”
    “I’ll have to look into that, I know that “this that and this happens” but will have to think of your particular situation.”
    “We’ll have time to discuss that later.”
    “Interesting. Let’s break it down. Where do you think we should start to answer the question?” Great lets do that and talk about it next time.

    Try not to answer if you don’t know. Retractions are no fun but necessary at times.

    – I like the new photo. :-)

    Good luck!

    • I will have to remember all this for next time, thankfully I didn’t get asked anything that I couldn’t answer. Thanks for all the great tips.

  8. The middle photo looks the most inviting. The bottom one is so dark that you lose the frosting on the cake. Once again, it was good to see how you work through your decision making in editing your photos. Thanks!

  9. I too prefer the middle picture – thanks. And the cake, lol, “you just chuck everything into a bowl etc. etc……” Yah, yah, if it was only that easy. Well done Leanne.

    • It really is that easy. It is one of the easiest chocolate cakes on the planet and takes good too. I’m getting hungry thinking about it. Thanks

  10. Great re-work, Leanne. I do like the 2nd image too, the lighting is much better that I can distinguish the color of the cake from the frosting.

    I find the first image would have worked for me too (I actually like the bright orange cups and saucers) if the cake didn’t take on that bright orange color too.

    On your third photo, I do like how the cups and saucers came out, probably like them even more than the colors on the 2nd image.

    Sorry if I was rambling…haha! But I felt the need to tell you what I really liked on all 3 images. Good luck on the class. I’m sure you’ll do well :)

    • It seems the second image is the better one, which I also think. I love your descriptions of each of them. The class also worked out well, thanks. Hey, I didn’t see any rambling.

  11. saymber says

    *wiping away the drool at seeing chocolate cake – no matter what you did to the picture it looks delicious! Food porn! :-P

    • Haha, I know just what you mean. It was hard working on it knowing that the cake was eaten months ago. :)

  12. Mlle Michelle says

    I could use some tips on cake & tea photos, thanks! I don’t even know how to use photoshop, but I can definitely make a good cake & cup of tea… that’s a start ;)

    • We should collaborate, you make the cake and tea and I will take the photos, then we can enjoy it afterwards. I’ve thought about doing some posts on this, let me if you would be interested. Thanks. :)

      • Mlle Michelle says

        that sounds great! I just did a new tea & cupcakes by the pool photoshoot this morning – I’ll let you know when I post it. We’ll have to arrange a way to do a collaboration too :)

      • Mlle Michelle says

        Hi Leanne. I just added some new tea & cupcake photos, with basically no photoshopping. I added a little vignette and auto-tone and put them up. Take a look and let me know what you think would be better if you can. Thanks!!

  13. The redness of the teacups really draws you eye. And I like it. If, however, the aim to to have a picture that you will your eye to the cake, the second is better I think. The browns seem to make you wish you could grab a bite of that chocolate cake.

    • Seems the cake is a huge hit. I find the first one just too loud and in your face, I think the second one works better and it more realistic. I have really missed your comments and thoughts Colline, it is so wonderful to have you back.

    • Thank you, as it turned out it was fine and the people in the class were so lovely that it was an absolute pleasure. Thank you. :)

  14. John Smith says

    Hi Leanne, all the best with your class….you are very knowledgeable and have the analytical approach that can tease apart any issue. The photo… A combination of 2/3 with more contrast in the foreground and the blurr in the background….but actually they all work, it really depends on where or how you want to use them……as an illustration in a food mag, or as a piece of art work.

    • Thanks John, the class did go well, and I found I could answer all their questions and those that I couldn’t their camera manuals could. I have no idea what I was thinking when I took the photo, I just did it, I think, as an exercise, just to experiment with taking some still life photos. Love all your comments, thanks a lot.

      • Hmmm, the biggest problem is that they expect you to know how every camera menu works……….and very few actually read them…… me included.

      • That is so true, I did tell them that it was worth the effort to at least skim over it, then they would know what the camera is capable of. Having said that, one of the best things was that they all had the same camera, so I only had to work things out once.

  15. Gayle says

    I prefer the second image to, as you say, it’s not overly orange. What about doing it again, with different lighting?

    • If I did it again Gayle I would have to make the cake again, and then I would have to eat it, that might be a problem, haha. I’m not sure about doing too many more still life images, I am more into the other stuff right now. Thanks Gayle.

      • Gayle says

        I don’t think there’d be much arguement for making another chocolate cake haha but I wasn’t meaning right now, but in the future. It’s always good to reexamine and see how differently your techniques and methodogy has moved on, from when it was originally done. How did the class go?

  16. I like the middle image best – it makes me want to eat cake the most…actually that should make me like it least…..

  17. You just started doing HDR in December? Holy cow. You’ve improved exponentially in just a few months. Your second attempt is *worlds* better than the first one. (I mean, the first one isn’t *bad*, but the second outshines it by far.) Cool redo!

    • You are being kind Josy. Thank you, I have worked very hard at trying to improve, always trying to improve. Thanks again.

  18. This is my favorite and not just because I like chocolate cake. I like the design and the reworking of color. Good job.

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